Working people fight their way to office

They come back home in a bad mood after haggling for right fare

There is a fight every morning with three or four autorickshaw drivers,” says Aradhana Makheja, who travels to work from Vasant Kunj to Okhla. At least twice a week she gets to office in a bad mood, the corporate employee says.

Similar stories are heard all over the city whenever the topic of autowalas comes up.
“Most autowallas do not agree to go by the meter. I travel to Sheikh Sarai Phase I every day. By the meter, the fare is around Rs 40 but the autowallas ask for Rs 70-80. It has become a daily affair now,” says Simi Sethi from East of Kailash.

“The main issue undoubtedly is fares. Once I was coming from Bikaner House stand for Jaipur-bound buses. And the auto asked for Rs 300 for a distance of six kilometres. I asked him if he thought I was a moron or someone new to the city whom he could loot,” says Manu Singh, a lawyer.

Pragyan Kaushik from Rohini says even if the auto drivers agree to go by the meter, they ask for Rs 10-20 extra. “They are not scared even if you threaten to call police,” he says. The change is never returned, unlike in  Mumbai where even Rs 2 is given back, he adds.
He complains that something like Rs 43 or 45 is automatically 'rounded off' to Rs 50 by autorickshaw drivers.

Tough time at night

It is even tougher to negotiate at night.
“Officially the night charge starts at 11 pm. But in certain areas like Dwarka and some parts of Ring Road, they start to charge night fare after 9 pm. This is more so when they see a woman or a group of females,” says Swarna, a Delhi University student staying in Dwarka as a paying guest.

There are other complaints as well.
“Many a time they will take you to a gas station without telling in advance. You have no option but to concede and get delayed by 10-15 minutes,” says Nityanand Rao from Mayur Vihar.

He adds that at times the auto drivers ask for extra money for going by a longer route to avoid  traffic jams – even if they end up taking the usual route.
“It is said competition leads to lowering of prices. But not in this case. Wherever there is an auto stand, all autowalas come together in collusion and hike the price.  A person has no way out. If autos from other localities stop and offer a cheaper price, the locals fight with them, even physically,” says Makheja.

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